YOU are under attack! The enemy is Satan, and the weapon he is using is very powerful. This weapon is specially made to attack your mind, not your body. What is it? Propaganda!
The apostle Paul knew that Satan’s propaganda was very dangerous. But not all Christians were aware of the danger. For example, it seems that some in Corinth thought they were so strong in the truth that they could never be taken in by Satan. (1 Corinthians 10:12) That is why Paul gave this warning: “I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent seduced Eve by its cunning, your minds might be corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that are due the Christ.”
Paul’s words show how important it is not to become too confident. To win the battle against Satan’s propaganda, you must recognize how dangerous it is and then protect yourself from it.
HOW DANGEROUS IS PROPAGANDA?
In this context, propaganda is inaccurate or misleading information that is used to trick people or control the way they think and act. According to the book Propaganda and Persuasion, propaganda is “unethical, harmful, and unfair.” People describe it using such words as “lies, distortion, deceit, manipulation, [and] mind control.”
Propaganda is very dangerous because it can gradually influence our thinking without our even noticing. We can compare it to a poisonous gas that we cannot see or smell. Vance Packard, an expert in human behavior, said that propaganda affects the way we act “far more than we realize.” Another expert said that propaganda has caused people to behave in extremely dangerous and unreasonable ways and has led to genocide (where an entire race of people is wiped out), war, and persecution because of race or religion.
If men can fool us with their propaganda, how much more so can Satan? He has studied human behavior since man was created. Also, he now controls “the whole world,” so he can use any part of the world to spread his lies. (1 John 5:19; John 8:44) Satan “has blinded the minds” of so many people with his propaganda that he is now “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9) How can you resist his propaganda?
STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH
Jesus taught us that there is a simple way to fight propaganda: “Know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32) In a war, a soldier needs to know where to get reliable information because the enemy will spread lies in order to trick him. So where can you get reliable information? Jehovah has provided this in his Word, the Bible. There you can find all you need to fight Satan’s propaganda.
Of course, Satan knows this. So he uses the world he controls to distract us and discourage us from reading and studying the Bible. Do not be tricked by the evil “schemes of the Devil”! (Ephesians 6:11, footnote) It is not enough to have a basic understanding of the truth. We need to work hard to deepen our knowledge of the truth. (Ephesians 3:18) As author Noam Chomsky said, “Nobody is going to pour truth into your brain. It’s something you have to find out for yourself.” So “find out for yourself” by “carefully examining the Scriptures daily.”
Satan does not want you to think clearly and understand the truth about what you hear. Why? Because propaganda “is likely to be most effective” if people are “discouraged from thinking critically.” (Media and Society in the Twentieth Century) Do not simply believe everything you hear without thinking carefully about it. (Proverbs 14:15) God gave you “thinking ability” and the “power of reason,” so use them to strengthen your faith.
Soldiers who are influenced by propaganda become afraid and less willing to fight. Propaganda may even cause them to fight among themselves or isolate themselves from the rest of the troops. According to a German general, propaganda was one reason that Germany was defeated in World War I. He said that the people were so influenced by propaganda that it was as if they were hypnotized by it. Satan uses similar methods to destroy the unity of Christians today. For example, he tries to cause disagreements among the brothers. Or he tries to get them to leave Jehovah’s organization by making them think that it has been unfair or has done something wrong.
Do not be fooled! Follow the advice of God’s Word and remain united with your brothers. For example, the Bible encourages us to continue “forgiving one another freely” and to be quick to settle any disagreements. (Colossians 3:13, 14; Matthew 5:23, 24) And it warns us not to isolate ourselves from the congregation. (Proverbs 18:1) Make sure that you are prepared to resist Satan’s propaganda. Ask yourself, ‘The last time one of my brothers offended me, did I react in a way that pleased God or that pleased Satan?’
DO NOT LOSE YOUR TRUST
A soldier who is not loyal to his leader will not fight well. So enemies use propaganda to destroy soldiers’ confidence and trust in their leaders. If leaders make a mistake, the enemies will try to use this and say: “You cannot trust them!” and “Do not let them lead you into disaster!” Satan does the same. He tries to destroy your confidence in those whom Jehovah is using to lead his people.
How can you protect yourself? Be determined to remain in Jehovah’s organization. Continue to be loyal and to support the men who are leading God’s people, even though these men are imperfect. (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13) Apostates and other deceivers may attack the organization. (Titus 1:10) Even if what they say seems to be true, do not be “quickly shaken from your reason.” (2 Thessalonians 2:2) Follow the advice Paul gave to Timothy: “Continue in the things that you learned,” and remember “from whom you learned them.” (2 Timothy 3:14, 15) Think about all the evidence that proves that you can trust the faithful slave whom Jehovah has used for almost a hundred years now to teach us the truth.
DO NOT BE AFRAID
Satan also tries to influence you in more direct ways. Sometimes he tries to make you feel afraid. Terror is “one of the oldest of all forms of propaganda.” (Easily Led
Do not let Satan do this to you! Jesus said: “Do not fear those who kill the body and after this are not able to do anything more.” (Luke 12:4) Be completely confident that Jehovah will keep his promise to care for you, give you “the power beyond what is normal,” and help you resist Satan’s attacks.
Of course, there may be times when you feel weak or afraid. But remember Jehovah’s encouraging words to Joshua: “Be courageous and strong. Do not be struck with terror or fear, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) If you feel anxious, immediately pray to Jehovah about your worries. You can be sure that “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers.” Then you will have the strength to resist all of Satan’s propaganda.
Do you remember the propaganda that the messenger of the Assyrians, the Rabshakeh, used in order to scare God’s people? He wanted them to believe that no one could protect them from Assyria, not even Jehovah. He then claimed that Jehovah had told the Assyrians to destroy Jerusalem. What did Jehovah say in return? “Do not be afraid because of the words that you heard, the words with which the attendants of the king of Assyria blasphemed me.” (2 Kings 18:22-25; 19:6) Jehovah then sent an angel who destroyed 185,000 Assyrians in one night!
—ALWAYS LISTEN TO JEHOVAH
Have you ever watched a movie where someone does not realize that he is being tricked? Did you want to yell out: ‘Do not believe it! They are lying to you!’ Imagine, then, the angels telling you: “Do not be fooled by Satan’s lies!”
So do not listen to Satan’s propaganda. (Proverbs 26:24, 25) Listen to Jehovah and trust in him in all that you do. (Proverbs 3:5-7) He loves you and he urges you: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice.” (Proverbs 27:11) If you do this, you will win the battle for your mind!